Re-charge device powers Mexican students to entrepreneurship prize

Students from the Colegio Israelita de México ORT (CIM-ORT) have secured victory in the 2018-19 World ORT Taub Young Entrepreneurship Program thanks to an innovative power bank creation.

The team created the ‘Re-Charge’ device which can be placed on a supermarket trolley allowing users to charge their phone and benefit from real-time offers from leading brands while doing their shopping.

Competition judges praised the CIM-ORT students for their innovation and creativity. Members of the winning team will now take part in an international entrepreneurship competition in Israel later this month. 

The competition promotes business entrepreneurship, motivates students – who are all aged 14 to 16 – and encourages collaboration. It is one of the programs run by ORT to help students transform their lives using 21st century skills.

Students from CIM-ORT working on their Re-Charge device for the competition

Students from CIM-ORT working on their Re-Charge device for the competition

Judges for the final included Robert Taub, the lead sponsor of the program and an entrepreneur in the biopharmaceutical and medical technology fields; Peter Klauber, a former senior partner at Ernst and Young turned entrepreneur and business mentor for start-ups and young businesses – and current World ORT Treasurer; and Deborah Azagury-Slattery who manages high-profile events, sales and marketing strategy for international hotel chains. Daniel Morris, a previous winner of the Camden Business Awards’ Young Entrepreneur of the Year prize, also joined the judging panel.

Announcing the winners at the culmination of the competition’s live final, Mr Taub said: “I was very impressed by the teams. The quality was very good. I am biased towards disruptive innovation but in general the teams were very well prepared and all in all, as an investor and entrepreneur myself, when I look at the projects I look at the idea but also the team and the people behind it. That’s even more important. The product can always be adapted along the road if you have a good team.

“I’m very pleased to see how ORT is fostering this environment for entrepreneurship. The economy is driven by all these small and medium enterprises that are coming from entrepreneurs. It’s a great initiative to have this competition and it’s not easy for the teams to present in a foreign language and in such a short time.”

The judging panel watch the finalists

The judging panel watch the finalists

Vladimir Dribinskiy, World ORT Chief Program Officer said: “I am impressed – there has been a lot of progress since last year, more energy and professionalism. I could definitely buy a couple of devices presented today. A special thank you to the teachers, students and Robert Taub as a major donor and judge for this program.”

The World ORT Taub Young Entrepreneurship Program simulates the real-world process of developing a business idea all the way up to the manufacture of a product prototype and development of business plan and sales pitch. The objective of the initiative is to provide students with the knowledge and tools for a successful career in business and entrepreneurship.

Each of the teams designed a product which solves a social problem. Their business plans covered launch, marketing and sale of their product, as well as a projected profit. Along the way they learned about business models, plans and marketing tools.

Students used makerspaces and Fablabs – small scale digital fabrication workshops – to produce their prototypes, and came together with their fellow competitors regularly throughout the year to reflect on their learning and progress. These milestones included webinars, presentation practice and report submissions, as well as the opportunity to present their projects and receive feedback from external business advisors.

CIM-ORT team member Alexa Polichuk explained how their device works: “The battery sits in the supermarket cart and you can scan a QR code which leads you to a webpage where you can see the latest offers in the supermarket. Plus it sends you special offers depending on which aisle you spend time in and gives you personalized reminders based on what you usually buy – so it also works as a marketing system for supermarkets, based on data.

“It was amazing to live through the journey of transforming an initial idea to a business project: something useful and innovative. 

“We learned so much throughout the whole process. First, we had never worked on anything as a class all together. At first it was hard to assign roles and make everyone give the best they could, because some of us thought of it as just as an idea, not a real business project. Nevertheless we started getting excited as it became something more real.

“We learned about the business world and took a peek on how it works in real life, not just school-wise, we started to understand how big the area is and all it takes to make an efficient business model. 

“YEP gave us the tools to be better prepared for our futures and helped us understand that there is still so much we can learn.

“Winning this contest was a great experience, we worked so hard to accomplish this and we are excited to go to Israel to have the chance to show everyone our idea and also look around to see all the other amazing ideas.

“To see our work and our effort be rewarded is the best feeling. We never thought we were going to win, it just seemed like something unreachable, but now, looking back, we realized every day we got more into it to the point of it being one of our top priorities and constantly re-checking what we could do to make it better.

“YEP did influence my career choice, I wasn’t sure what to study, but by learning of this project and how it works to develop a business made me be sure that I want to study business and do that for a living.”

Sharon Pesikov, a student at World ORT Kadima Mada’s Kfar Hassidim High School in Israel, was a member of the winning team in 2018.

Sharon Pesikov from last year's winning team

Sharon Pesikov from last year’s winning team

The Kfar Hassidim students produced a kinetic GPS bracelet for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients.

Sharon explained how taking part had benefitted the team.

“We were very happy to have the ability to develop a potentially life-saving device. We felt like we were doing something that could influence the world we live in and help those in need.

“Winning the competition was a huge honor and made a big difference in our lives. We went through a journey that has given us many tools for life.

“After winning we competed in an international entrepreneurship competition in Israel. We made lots of friends and met interesting people who inspired us.”

Sharon said working as a team had been hugely important throughout the process, and that being well-organized had contributed to the team’s success. 

The next phase of the project will bring seven additional ORT schools into the program, beginning with a teacher training seminar in Haifa in September.

ORT’s mission is to place the future in the hands of the next generation. Our focus on problem solving, critical thinking and communication empowers students with knowledge and expertise to fulfil their potential.

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